Gentle Knife from Oslo are a very talented group of musicians. Their style does draw heavily from both 70s prog rock and 80s neo-prog. The music on their self-titled debut album has a good balance of both the technical classic prog sound with a more mellow, melodic leanings of Genesis and Alan Parsons.
I love that the band employ a horn section which really gives them added options with their arrangements. Musically, this album is quite good and the mix by the legendary Neil Kernon is stellar. BUT the problem I have is the vocals. This seems to happen a lot but for as good as the music is, singer Håkon Kavli does not have a good range or tone to support music of this caliber.
It becomes really obvious when he is joined by female vocalist Melina Oz, who apparently is not a member of the band. She has a beautiful voice and even reminds me a bit of Kate Bush on the opener “Eventide.” The problem is she makes Kavli’s deficiencies more obvious. When “Our Quiet Footsteps” starts, Oz sounds great. Then Kavli joins in and they just don’t sound good together. In fact, it sounds like Oz goes flat along with Kavli.
On the plus side, the album’s two closing tracks are instrumental and are my favorites by far. I feel bad singling out Kavli but when a band is this good musically, they deserve a really DYNAMIC lead vocalist. Unfortunately, I wind up not fully enjoying the album because of that. Perhaps others will like his voice well enough, I’ll leave that up to all of you.
Gentle Knife have a potentially bright future. But for me, they are missing a key ingredient. But songs like “Epilogue” and “Coda” prove that they could be an incredible instrumental band if they chose to be. For now, I wish them the success that I think they deserve. Like their name, Gentle Knife prove to be a true dichotomy.
2. Our Quiet Footsteps
3. Remnants of Pride
4. Tear Away the Cords That Bind
5. Beneath the Waning Moon
6. The Gentle Knife
7. Epilogue: Locus Amoenus
8. Coda: Impetus